Babies have special reflexes that last only a few months. It helps to know what the reflexes are so you are not alarmed when they occur.
The following reflexes are normal for newborns:
- Moro or "startle" reflex: This occurs when your baby's head shifts position quickly. Or when her head falls backward. Or when your baby is startled by something loud. She will react by throwing out her arms and legs and extending her neck. Your baby will then quickly bring her arms together. She may cry when doing this. This reflex should go away after two months.
- Rooting reflex: This is how your baby hunts for her mother's breast. If you gently stroke the side of her cheek with your finger, she will turn her head toward your finger. This lasts for three to four months.
- Grasp reflex: Your baby will clench her fist around anything pressed into the palm of her hand. You can show this to a big brother or sister. Say, "The baby wants to hold on to your finger." This reflex goes away at five to six months.
- Stepping reflex: If you hold a newborn baby upright under her arms with her feed on a hard surface, her feet will make a stepping action. This happens even though it is a long time before she is ready to stand or walk. This usually lasts a couple of months.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about your baby's reflexes.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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